9 Best & Worst Nissan Leaf Years (With Pictures)

The Nissan Leaf is a popular electric car that made its debut as a 2011 model.

It’s cheap and cheerful although its range isn’t as good as some of the pricier options on the market.

If you’re wondering which years to avoid and which years to look out for, you’ve come to the right place.

2023 Nissan Leaf

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Leaf Are:

The best Nissan Leaf model years are 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2017. The worst model years of the Leaf are 2015, 2011, 2013, and 2012. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Leaf?

2023 Nissan Leaf

The 2023 Leaf is a wiser choice than many of the earlier models due to its substantially better range and fewer problems.

It is quiet, boasts useful tech features that make driving easier and is attractively priced.

This model comes in 2 trims, the entry-level S trim (approx. $29,135) and the top-spec SV Plus Trim (approx. $37,135).

Its most powerful battery pack offers about 215 miles of driving range whilst the smaller battery enables 149 miles of driving.

Updates for 2023 include revised front-end styling with an illuminated Nissan badge and a reduction in trim levels from 5 to 2. 

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 73 / 100

2023 Leaf, Edmunds review:

“Nothing fancy, but delivers as promised. Drives great and has all the safety and tech features needed. With the incentives can’t beat the price, great way to dip your toes in the EV pool.”

2022 Nissan Leaf

The 2022 Leaf is a great electric vehicle for those who don’t plan on venturing too far from home.

Despite its low price, this model still boasts a lot of great driver assistance features, infotainment tech, and modern styling.

It comes in 5 trim levels: S, SV, S Plus, SV Plus, and SL Plus with electric ranges ranging from 149 miles to 226 miles.

Notable safety features include the ProPilot Assist, Advanced Airbag System, and Automatic Emergency Braking.

This model also secured a perfect 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

For 2022, the Level 3 fast-charging port was made standard.

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 73 / 100

2022 Leaf, Edmunds review:

“We purchased a SL Plus a few months ago. Its a great car. We charge it about once a week – the 225 range is perfect for our use pattern. The level 2 charger (included) was easy to install at our garage after we upgraded the outlets. Inside its very comfortable with great visibility. The Media and dash are simple to use and more like a traditional auto. The EV related menus are simple as well…”

2021 & 2020 Nissan Leaf

With quick, smooth acceleration, a complement of driver assistance features, and a quiet driving experience, the 2021 and 2020 Leafs are excellent choices.

These models are essentially the same and you can’t go far wrong with either of them.

While the entry-level S trim is a great choice for first-timers, we recommend getting the SV Plus trim (one step up from the S trim) to have a larger battery and more power for a slight increase in price.

These models boast driver assistance features as standard that were previously optional, which are bundled together in the Safety Shield 360 package.

This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high-beam headlamps.

2021 Nissan Leaf:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2020 Nissan Leaf:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2021 Leaf, Edmunds review:

“One year of ownership on the books – and the Leaf has officially become a welcome member of the household. It has done this by providing a fun and reasonably quick driving experience, perfect reliability, delivering its 225 mile range as advertised, and just having a cheeky presence on the road. I’m a former Tesla owner, so there’s no need to explain how the Leaf can’t touch the 0-to-60 figures of anything from the Tesla stable. The SL model has plenty of oomph to zip around town, merge onto the freeway, and cruise along at the typical 75-to-80 mph range on the California highways. Innovation is swell…”

2020 Nissan Leaf

2017 Nissan Leaf

The 2017 Leaf is the last model year of the first generation and it has proven itself to be a very reliable car.

The cabin is quiet and comfortable and there is ample cargo space for a small car.

The range of the 2017 Leaf isn’t on par with the newer models but you can still expect 107 miles of driving range.

This vehicle has a nice selection of safety features, including RearView and Around View Monitors, Advanced Airbag System, and NissanConnect EV technology. 

If you’re on a tight budget the 2017 Leaf is a good choice, although it may be worth paying a little extra for a newer model with better range.

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2017 Leaf, Edmunds review:

“The Leaf is a really fun car to drive. It handles well, feels very solid and well made. I think it’s zippy- I don’t understand the ‘slow acceleration’ comment from Edmunds. I loved my previous car but sold it to friends in order to go with new technology. I leased rather than purchased- you want to be able to move on to a higher range vehicle in a few years. Hope Nissan comes out with a 150-200 range version in 2018 – I’ll be waiting in line…”

Consumer Scores For Best Nissan Leaf Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2023 Nissan Leaf4.1 / 5.04.5 / 5.073 / 100
2022 Nissan Leaf4.1 / 5.04.5 / 5.073 / 100
2021 Nissan Leaf4.3 / 5.04.5 / 5.0NA
2020 Nissan Leaf4.3 / 5.04.5 / 5.0NA
2017 Nissan Leaf4.4 / 5.04.5 / 5.081 / 100

Related: 7 Most Common Problems With Nissan Leaf (Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Leaf?

2015 Nissan Leaf

Based on the statistics obtained from CarProblemZoo.com, a site that tracks NHTSA data, the 2015 Leaf is the most problematic model year ever produced.

The most frequent and severe problem reported by owners of this model is its very problematic brake system.

Generally, owners reported non-responsive brakes when driving at certain speeds. 

This issue was allegedly caused by a faulty intelligent brake unit which is a driver assistance feature that reduces the impact of collisions. 

Here is one owner’s report:

“I was driving down the road and applied pressure to the brakes. The brakes did not respond and the dash lights lit up indicating several failures. It took 15-20 feet before I was able to completely stop. If this had happened on a busy street or freeway, the results would have been catastrophic.”

It is also worth noting that the 2015 Leaf only has a driving range of 84 miles on a full battery charge.

The 2015 Leaf had a total of 5 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 109 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Brakes not working properly
  • Warning lights on
  • Clicking sound
2015 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

The debut Nissan Leaf had its fair share of issues, the most problematic being battery issues.

Owners reported battery capacity issues that seemed to occur just as the warranty expired.

The 2011 also Leaf suffered from various airbag-related problems. 

Owners reported airbag light illumination which rendered the entire airbag system inoperative.

This problem required massive component replacement, such as seat sensor replacement or even total front seat replacement. 

The 2011 Leaf had a total of 13 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 108 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Occupant classification system sensor failure
  • Battery capacity loss
  • Premature tire wear
2011 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

The 2013 was plagued by various categories of concern.

The most widespread issue was faulty brakes, which meant in some cases the vehicle did not come to a stop when the brake pedal was depressed.

Other commonly reported problems include airbag deployment failure, faulty seat belt and airbag sensors, and car warning system indicators responding/reacting to other vehicles’ keyfobs.

The 2013 Leaf had a total of 9 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 107 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Range is diminished dramatically with low temperatures
  • Brakes locked up
  • Heater stopped working

2012 Nissan Leaf

Like other model years mentioned, owners of the 2012 Leaf suffered from severe brake-related defects.

Reports specified unintended braking, abrupt stopping motion when brakes are applied, and intermittent vehicle jerking.

Owners reported that when the brake pedal is gently depressed at speeds under 15 miles per hour, the car would brake strongly and lurch to a stop, throwing the driver and passengers forward abruptly. 

There were also a number of complaints from owners who had charging issues making the car inoperable.

The 2012 Leaf had a total of 9 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 62 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Failure of electric motor, power inverter, and main chip
  • Battery will not charge
  • Airbag light is flashing

Related: How Long Will a Nissan Leaf Last? (Useful Guide)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
(CarComplaints.com)
Problems
(CarProblemZoo.com)
2023 Nissan Leaf11
2022 Nissan Leaf19
2021 Nissan Leaf013
2020 Nissan Leaf014
2019 Nissan Leaf240
2018 Nissan Leaf341
2017 Nissan Leaf217
2016 Nissan Leaf432
2015 Nissan Leaf5109
2014 Nissan Leaf240
2013 Nissan Leaf9107
2012 Nissan Leaf962
2011 Nissan Leaf13108

What Problems Do Nissan Leaf Have?

  • Brakes not working properly
  • Failure of electric motor, power inverter, and main chip
  • Range is diminished dramatically with low temperatures
  • Occupant classification system sensor failure
  • Battery capacity loss
  • Premature tire wear
  • Battery will not charge
  • Airbag light is flashing
  • Brakes locked up
  • Heater stopped working
  • Warning lights on
  • Clicking sound
  • Battery runs out quickly
  • Brake failure on startup
  • Unintended braking
  • Car locked itself with keys inside
  • Wheel nut not in car

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Nissan Leaf?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPGe)
Chevrolet Bolt8.0$25,600 – $28,800City: 131 /Highway: 109
Nissan Leaf7.6$28,040 – $36,040City: 121 – 123 /Highway: 98 – 99
Mini Electric Hardtop7.4$29,900 – $33,900City: 119 /Highway: 100

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com

Related: 12 Electric Cars With Apple Car Play (With Pictures)

References

https://www.caranddriver.com/nissan/leaf

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/nissan/leaf

https://www.edmunds.com/nissan/leaf/

https://www.kbb.com/nissan/leaf/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2022/nissan/leaf

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/Leaf/

https://www.carproblemzoo.com/nissan/leaf/

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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